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April 6, 2014 | by  | in Ngāi Tauira Opinion |
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Maori Matters

It was 24 September 2011. I was 20, studying full-time here at Vic, and was face to face with the biggest demon in my life. Myself.

Back then, I was realising that something had consumed my consciousness, my way of thinking, my logic; the me I once knew was no longer there. I was actually staring at myself slowly realising that I couldn’t recognise the things in me that once made me, ME!

I was suffering from an eating disorder – anorexia nervosa.

For me, it was the ideal of perfection. I have always struggled with perfectionism. Of course there are other factors which led to the eating disorder – my sexuality, obsessive–compulsive tendencies, and the onset of the mental illness depression. I was totally aware but in complete self-denial. I had come to the realisation that a choice needed to be made: A) I could continue down this dangerous track, or, B) I could face my demons head on and try change myself. Get back what little pieces of ‘ME’ remained in this fractured shell.

I chose B, booking a flight that morning to leave Wellington the next day. I had made the choice and knew there was now no turning back.

I returned home and the pain that I had hidden for years inside was now physically visible to those who love me. The son, grandson, brother, nephew, friend, the person they had raised and knew had faded and now what remained was a diminishing fragile exterior.

I was nearing my 21st birthday and barely able to stand on the scales and tip 50 kg.

Skip to today…

It’s 1 April 2014, I’m 23 and back studying at Vic. I currently weigh 65 kg, and I’m well on the way to recovery. Dealing with an eating disorder is often a constant battle. The person I am now, the person I have become, is vastly different to the shell I shed in 2011.

Seeking professional help, I applied the saying “out with the old, in with the new”. Focussing on the positive and eliminating the negative. Physically, I’ve gained weight, but it’s still a continuous struggle. Mentally, I’ve expanded my mind, learning techniques to better deal with my issues, while socially I’ve lost friends who couldn’t understand or empathise with what I face.

When people think of an eating disorder, it’s considered a ‘girls’ problem’. They aren’t confined by gender, sexuality, income or cultural background. There is no single cause for an eating disorder.

Figures suggest that around 20 per cent of people with anorexia nervosa are male. Eight to 11 per cent of those suffering bulimia nervosa are men, as are 50 per cent of binge-eating-disorder sufferers.

There’s no shame in asking for help, and you will thank yourself for doing so in years to come as I have.

 

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He Tāonga

:   I wanted to write this piece, in order to connect to all tauira within the University, with the hope that we can all remind ourselves that we are a part of an environment which is valuable, no matter our culture, our beliefs or our skin colour. The ultimate purpose of this